The Books in the Nick scheme started in London when a Metropolitan police special constable arrested a young man earlier this year.
The 18-year-old man asked police officer Steve Whitmore to borrow a book to read while in custody. But Whitmore had nothing appropriate to offer.
The police officer gave him one of his personal books and was amazed by the reaction of the prisoner. He stopped being hostile towards the constable and the book created the grounds for them to talk.
The new idea was born. Whitmore contacted the charity Give a Book in an effort to offer prisoners of all ages the opportunity to read a good book.
The charity was set up in memory of writer Simon Gray and facilitates the donation of books to several organizations. The titles range from classics, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Animal Farm to poetry, foreign books, young adult fiction, short stories and graphic novels.
What they tried to do at the Metropolitan Police is select books for all ages because some of the people they arrest are as young as 15 or even younger than 10.
Although their parents are notified, they still have to spend a night in a cell with nothing to do. A book always makes good company, reduces stress, and gives arrested people the chance to get inspired.
These are the exact goals of the Met and since the books are donated, they don’t cost the police anything. Everyone agrees that the scheme is an excellent idea, which should be adopted by other institutions too.